CLASSROOM 21 | by Greg Limperis
Learning Platforms are increasingly prevalent in education. From Blackboard, Moodle, and Edmodo to Ning and others, schools are dabbling in the use of learning platforms—but when will it become the Next Big Deal? In edtech forums across the internet, discussions center on how to integrate Facebook and Twitter into everyday teaching.
So what will the Next Big Deal in learning platforms look like? As an educator who teaches on a daily basis, I can tell you that nothing will ever remove the need for one-to-one interaction with a real human being. As we’re beginning to see, universities are finding that students most enjoy blended learning classrooms.
Question is, Can we produce a learning platform that gives a student the ability to feel like they are in a blended learning classroom without actually having to attend the classroom?
Furthermore: Can we extend the classroom day outside of the classroom and still have teaching and learning occur naturally? And while we’re on it: Is there a way to integrate some of the cutting edge technology and ideas out there into a world class learning platform that schools and students will flock to?
With the advent of new technology currently available—or soon to hit the market in full scale—the learning platform teachers are looking for is right around the corner.
Imagine the learning platform of the near future: a combination of Facebook, Skype, Pearson’s Power School and YouTube. Planned correctly, this learning platform could solve some of the problems of soon-to-be-felt budget cuts across educational institutions everywhere. It’ll work like this:
The learning platform exists in the cloud as a secured site. Schools and school districts log in to create their own site much the same as Facebook allows you to create your own group or page. The school sets up teachers who then create and share content on the learning platform. Students create their own accounts on the site and are dropped into a pool of students for teachers to choose from.
Groups or classes are assigned codes much as Edmodo does. Only welcomed members are able to join. This code could then be emailed out to all members who request to join. Class offerings are listed on the school or school district site, posted for the group to see.
Students would have the ability to choose how much and what is shared with others. Everything posted by that student is set up to be completely monitored by that teacher and or school. A student flagged too often risks removal from the site; the student’s home school or teacher is notified.
Logistics of how everything would be set up could be discussed later. For now, let’s talk further about how it would work.
The teacher from the LP creates classes and content to share locally within the school, or open for anyone to attend. Teachers press a button to activitate their webcam and create video to share with their students; the video is automatically added to a video library for other users much like on YouTube. Teachers then search through a teacher-created video repository to use for their lessons. Videos could then be assigned to students to read and comment on. Students logging in would see if any other members were also on, and they could not only instant message chat, but video chat with them as well—even using a desktop-sharing feature much like that available on Skype. Even this conference call with desktop sharing could be captured in videos and shared.
Through the use of an app that could be easily created, any student with a 4G phone on a 4G network could video chat with other members in their class on the LP from anywhere at any time. No 4G phone? No problem. They could still be set up to chat with them much the same as you can now using a smartphone now.
Discussions, blogs and more could be shared much as it is on Moodle, Ning or other platforms. All student work could then be graded. Any classs assignment or student assignment could then be graded much as you currently can do in Edmodo.
Textboxes for all entries would be HTML editors where embedded code could be added, integrating rich content such as Glogs from Glogster, animations from GoAnimate or presentations from Prezi, for example.
All graded information could then be stored in a secured database much as you currently get from Pearson’s Power School software and a PDF file of a report card could then be emailed out.
As part of this offering, live help would be provided 24 hours a day. Someone could be available should someone need help with accessing content, planning lessons or such. Webinars would be offered periodically each week where trainings could be offered and teachers and/or students could log in to learn technical aspects of using the software. Teachers could also host their own webinars on topics that could be offered to either all members or just to their school only.
As you can see, the options are endless. How the Next Big Deal will look is only limited by our imaginations. It’s not a matter of if—but just a matter of when. Learning Platforms are the way of the future. Students need and want a different way of learning. Our world is changing and so should how we teach those who live in it.
So I bring this challenge to you: Let’s talk about what the perfect learning platform will look like. Let’s start planning for it. And let’s make the Next Big Deal be something created that isn’t just created for teachers, but created by teachers.
Greg Limperis is a Middle School Technology Facilitator in Lawrence, Mass., who founded the very popular Technology Integration in Education professional learning network, reaching thousands of educators worldwide. He has shared with others what he knows and they have joined him in sharing their insights as well. Join them in bringing about change using your 21st century skills.